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What do you base your business on quantity or quality?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Grass Kickin, Nov 19, 2006.

  1. Grass Kickin

    Grass Kickin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 167

    In reading a couple of posts here lately regarding profitability, where some are advising others to sell their Z and get a walk behind, it got me thinking.

    As far as general lawn maintenance is concerned, do you base your business on big contracts or multiple smaller contracts? I would guess that someone cutting lawns with a walk behind can't do the volume of lawns that can be accomplished with a Z or a pair of Z's. The income would be less overall despite the lower cost of the walk behind.

    My accounts are mixed in that I try to target larger accounts that obviously pay more but I do have about 40 residential homes. If it was my call I'd mow all the farm land accounts I could get. Acreage has been good to me.

    I took over my brother in laws business where he made a ton of cheap, bad contracts that ultimately he never made money on. I've slowly culled and rearranged them to work in my favor, only about 4 or 5 remain and I will honor the contracts solely on principle because it is the right thing to do.

    I guess my question is, do you look for a lot of small accounts that take less time to complete so you can do more of them, or do you try to get the big accounts where you will spend many hours until they are completed? I'm not talking desgin work here, I'm talking general lawn maintenance.

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    Quility work at proper profit. That is the way an account should be looked at.
    The number of them is determined by the hours of work you need to fill each week.
  3. Ric3077

    Ric3077 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,113

    Exactly end of story, quality work priced right will generate more referrals than crappy cheap work...also, quality work will keep customers loyal, cheap work will keep customers till the lext lowballer offers $1 less per cut. However I do not agree with the sell your Z theory that seems to be going around...to me the key is speed, the quicker I finish one job, the quicker I can get to the next. If you have no money then yes don't get a Z but if you can get the money or a loan, get any equipment that will speed you up and make you more profitably. Whatever you do just don't lowball, nobody wins with lowballing.
  4. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    I think my biz name says it all. I had rather do fewer yards and have a sterling reputation than do a bunch and they look sloppy. I try to also pick accounts that, large or small, that I can get the most profit on. I made some mistakes over the years picking bad unprofitable acounts that I tried to make look great but the profit margin was so low not worth it do to the amount of time it took.
  5. Grass Kickin

    Grass Kickin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 167

    Nothing here insinuated cheap crappy sloppy work. The question was would you rather mow a ton of cookie cutter small jobs or do big jobs. This is cutting/trimming/blowing, that's all. Obviously we all stand by our reputations so it is automatically implied that every one of us would do our absolute best no matter what type/size of job it was.

    Ric, I think we are on the same page. I rely on my Z's, I didn't understand why in the other posts people were recommending the walk behinds. When doing a bunch of small jobs, speed is key and I do not think that speed means poor quality. It merely gives one the ability to take on more work.
  6. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    We utilize a profit-per-hour equation that is a blueprint to exactly what we need to sell pre-season, during season, and post-season. If you know what each man hour for each employee position costs your company, all you need to do is add in your desired profit percentage and voila!

    The accounts you choose should be the deciding factor in your performance. If I am mowing for a municipality that subbed me for nuisance properties then time is the factor. If I am working in a $1000000 plus community, well you can figure it out. Either way, I know what I am making, spending, and what I am going to make after expenses.
  7. ECS

    ECS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,733

    I prefer the bigger lawns and would rather spend the time on them, in one place rather than having to have more drive time and wear & tear on my truck. Sure a lot of real small lawns that can be done in 10 - 15 min with the minimum drop gate rate is great, but I still would prefer the acreage over the small ones. It is nice to be on one property for 3 - 4 hrs vs unloading, loading, driving, unloading, loading, driving, on and on all day.
  8. Prestige-Lawncare

    Prestige-Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 753

    My business is based on a number of things ... and quality is way up at the top.

  9. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,281

    I base my business on Volume....Meaning Quantity at a reasonable level of quality. Most ppl. really can't tell the difference between a good job and a great job, esp. Commercial accounts. We aim to do a good job on alot of propertys.

    I don't have the desire to do Immpecable work on a few properties.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    You can't do yards smaller than an acre in less time with a Z, I run circles around the Z with my 48" Wb on anything smaller, you really need BIG wide open lots (acre+) to justify even loading the Z.

    All the time I finish 1/4 - 1/2 acre lots with a Wb in the same or less time than a team of two Lco's with a Z.

    It has to do with the properties of the machine: The Z is BIG, HEAVY, and powerful, it's like a Nascar.
    The Wb is highly maneuverable, light, and nimble, more like a GoKart.
    Where the Nascar will win on the big oval, the GoKart will likely finish first on the tricky tracks, if for no other reason than the Nascar can't hardly get around the track, it has no DISTANCE in which to build up speed.

    The Wb out turns the Z as it runs around at almost top speed the entire time, the Z needs flat out DISTANCE:
    The Z has SO much power, it first needs 10-15 feet just to build speed, you can't accelerate from 0 - 8+ mph in zip, and you will cover YARD while building speed... Once up to speed, you have to start slowing down again in time to turn, once again consuming distance: All this time spent speeding up / slowing down costs you the race in small lots.

    The Z takes forever getting turned around, those big tires will tear up turf unless you do it right (and slow), where the Wb can take a turn at almost 6mph, with the Z it's a stop-and-go 3-point turn every time, the Z eats up a TON of time in the turns, and on smaller lots you will spend ALL your time in the turns.

    Furthermore, the Wb gets deeper into the nooks and crannies, requiring less trimming and certainly you'd never need a pushmower... For the Lco's using the Z AND a pushmower, if they finish first with the Z then they have one more machine to contend with and by the time they're done with the 21" I am at least halfway through trimming.

    My 48" Wb runs circles around my 60" Z on anything less than 3/4 acres guaranteed, between 3/4's to a full acre it's a toss up, and from an acre on up, the Z finally pulls out ahead, finishing the flat square acre in 30 minutes vs. the Wb's 45, still at twice the cost for -15 minutes, I really prefer acre+ for a Z but...

    Don't forget the ROPS getting in the way and how the Z really loads the rig down, omg...
    But it is nice, I'll give it that much.

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